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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker report: Bucs reached out to Cowher to gauge interest



Raheem Morris is officially on the hot seat. 

According to an report, Bucs 'officials' have reached out to former Steelers Super Bowl coach Bill Cowher to gauge his interest about coaching Tampa Bay in 2010.

The report by Jason La Canfora is based on 'a source with knowledge of the situation.'

Cowher, who has been an analyst for CBS since retiring from the Steelers after the 2006 season, has kept a stance of not talking about a job that is not currently available.

Multiple reports say Cowher is preparing for a return to the sideline in 2010.

The Bucs had no official comment. But a source close to the team denied the report.  

The Glazer family has a history of making dynamic coaching moves. Two weeks before firing Tony Dungy, they reached an agreement with Bill Parcells to coach the team in 2002. But Parcells backed out of the agreement shortly after Dungy was terminated and the Bucs wound up sending four draft picks to Oakland and $8-million in exchange for coach Jon Gruden.

To say Morris has struggled in his first year as a head coach is an understatement. The Bucs are 2-12 and have dismissed both offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski and defensive coordinator Jim Bates.

The Bucs have played better since Morris took over the defense four weeks ago, but they face improbable odds today at New Orleans and finish at home next week against Atlanta.

Cowher was contacted by the Buffalo Bills earlier this year when the team fired coach Dick Jauron. The report said he has looked at the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans and Chicago Bears as intriguing situations. 

It's generally believed he is strongly considering a return to the sidelines and Tampa Bay isn't far from his Carolina home.

If the Glazer family were able to land Cowher, it would likely restore the fan base in Tampa Bay. The Bucs are looking at the possibility of television blackouts if Morris remains as coach next season.

Cowher is likely to command complete control of the personnel decisions and a salary in the $8- to $9-million range. But it's possible general manager Mark Dominik could remain with the club to assist Cowher with personnel issues, the draft, contracts and the salary cap.

Morris, 33, is the youngest head coach in the NFL. He has two years remaining on his contract, but the 2011 season is believed to be the club's option.

The Bucs already are on the hook for Gruden's $5-million per year salary for two more seasons. Working in Morris' favor is the fact that NFL owners could lock out players in 2011 if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached by then. Many teams will be reluctant to fire and hire coaches this season for that reason.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:52pm]


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